Thursday, February 28, 2013

STUDENT REVIEW- The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda
By Tom Angleberger
Published by Abrams, Harry N., Inc., 2010
141 pages (paperback)

In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel. (from

I liked the humor. It was in all of the right places. It was great! Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler]. It’s really funny and would speak to nerds, like myself!
-Lilly H.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TOP TEN TUESDAY: I'll Buy These Authors' Books No Matter What!

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is the Top Ten Author's I'd Put On My Auto-Buy List.
There are some authors I am kind of obsessed with. I get their books the DAY they come out. Thankfully I am a librarian and I can buy these books with the school's money and not my own. Whoo hoo!
  • Laurie Halse Anderson (Chains; Speak)
  • John Green (An Abundance of Katherines; Looking for Alaska)
  • Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games)
  • Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss)
  • Julie Kagawa (The Iron Fey Series; Immortal Rules)
  • Brian Selznick (The Invention of Hugo Cabret)
  • Jane Austen (Pride & Prejudice)
    *Yes, I know she is not alive any more, but isn’t there a “lost” manuscript somewhere?
  • Maureen Johnson (Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes; Name of the Star)
  • Lauren Myracle (Shine)
  • Scott Westerfeld (Uglies; Leviathan)
  • Monday, February 25, 2013

    Kristy's Great Idea By Raina Telgemeier... based on the book by Ann M. Martin

    Kristy's Great Idea (BSC Graphix Series #1)
    By Raina Telgemeier, (based on the book by Ann M. Martin)
    Published by Scholastic, Inc, 2006
    192 pages (paperback)

    Based on Ann M. Martin's bestselling series, America's favorite baby-sitters are back -- this time, in a heart-warming and hilarious graphic novel.
    In this new graphic novel edition of the very first BABY-SITTERS CLUB book, Raina Telgemeier captures all the drama of the original in warm, spunky illustrations. Witness Kristy's eureka moment, when she gets the idea for a "baby-sitters club" and enlists her best friends, shy Mary Anne and artistic Claudia, in an exciting new venture. But the baby-sitting business isn't the only thing absorbing their attention: Kristy is having a hard time accepting her stepdad-to-be, and the newest member of the gang, Stacey, seems to be hiding a secret. (from

    Oh, BSC, how I loved you growing up.

    Seriously, I spent hours (even days) in the world of Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia (my niece is named after this BSC character!), Stacey, etc. They came up with a creative business and then dealt with the antics of kids, classmates, family members, and each other. It was because of them that my main job in high school was babysitting and that in college I still enjoyed hanging out with kiddos while their parents were gone (and getting paid for it… and eating yummy food).

    At first I was hesitant to read the BSC graphic novel. I mean, Raina Telgemeier's drawings aren’t quite how I pictured some of the characters and she obviously had to leave out some details, but it was fun to see the action played out. Plus, she added in a few scenarios to help readers understand the overall story so, for me, it was a new twist on books I knew and loved.

    For those who loved the regular BSC novels and for those to enjoy (or have to endure) babysitting, these are great books to pick up. I just wish there were more…..

    Thursday, February 21, 2013


    The UMS Library was able to get $850 in books thanks to the UMS Student Council Scholastic Book Fair last week. That is the best EVER. I was able to get lots of awesome books that will be available to be checked out soon. Whoo Hoo!!!

    THANK YOU to all the UMS Student Council members who worked the Scholastic Book Fair last week!

    THANK YOU to the students & staff & parents who bought items at the book fair!

    THANK YOU to Mrs. Hlinka for organizing the book fair!

    THANK YOU to all the students who suggested books for me to get at the book fair!

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top Ten Favorite Characters in Fantasy Books

    Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is My Top Ten Favorite Fantasy Characters.

    Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    Such a loyal and sweet hobbit.

    Elisa from Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae CarsonShe’s sassy and determined… which is a good combo if you want to save your kingdom from some unsavory people.

    Marian from Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
    She is a librarian and librarians are AWESOME! However, she was left out of the movie adaptation. What?!? Not cool at all. That is why books are better than movies.

    Abe Lincoln from Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
    Gotta love Honest Abe as a killer of vampires. He’s the best!

    Hermione from Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
    Sometimes being a bookworm can get you and your friends out of trouble and save the world.

    Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl
    Oh, I wish I had her powers sometimes.

    Grimalkin from The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
    Love that sarcastic talking cat!

    The Cat from Coraline by Neil Gaiman
    Apparently I have a thing for sarcastic cats who like to chit-chat with characters… hmmmmmm

    Alice from Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
    Alice loves fashion, is fun & kind, and seems like a cool friend.

    Grandpa Joe from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
    Spunky old guy. He’s so cute.

    Monday, February 18, 2013

    Bewitching by Alex Flinn

    Bewitching (the Kendra Chronicles)
    by Alex Flinn
    Published by HarperCollins, 2012
    352 pages (hardcover)

    Bewitching can be a beast. . . .
    Once, I put a curse on a beastly and arrogant high school boy. That one turned out alright. Others didn't.
    I go to a new school now—one where no one knows that I should have graduated long ago. I'm not still here because I'm stupid; I just don't age.
    You see, I'm immortal. And I pretty much know every-thing after hundreds of years—except for when to take my powers and butt out.
    I want to help, but things just go awry in ways I could never predict. Like when I tried to free some children from a gingerbread house and ended up being hanged. After I came back from the dead (immortal, remember?), I tried to play matchmaker for a French prince and ended up banished from France forever. And that little mermaid I found in the Titanic lifeboat? I don't even want to think about it.
    Now a girl named Emma needs me. I probably shouldn't get involved, but her gorgeous stepsister is conniving to the core. I think I have just the thing to fix that girl—and it isn't an enchanted pumpkin. Although you never know what will happen when I start . . . Bewitching. (from

    I had been wanting to read an Alex Flinn novel for a while and the premise of this book seemed rather interesting. And, ultimately, the overall story was pretty good. It was a new take on Cinderella with some surprise twists and interesting characters.

    HOWEVER, the book was told from the perspectives of quite a few difference characters which made the flow of the book choppy. In fact, some of Kendra’s back stories seemed awkwardly placed and not necessary. AND I wish more of the story had been told from Kendra’s point of view because I enjoyed her sassy and sarcastic voice. It seems as though we will hear more of Kendra’s stories in the future so I really do hope her voice is the main focus.

    Overall this was a light-hearted story that was fun to read. Sure, it could have been better, but it was an easy way to get away for a few hours.

    Thursday, February 14, 2013

    STUDENT REVIEW- Many Waters by Madeline L'Engle

    Many Waters
    By Madeline L’Engle
    Published by Square Fish, 2007
    224 pages (paperback)

    Sandy and Dennys have always been the normal, run-of-the-mill ones in the extraodinary Murry family. They garden, make an occasional A in school, and play baseball. Nothing especially interesting has happened to the twins until they accidentally interrupt their father's experiment.
    Then the two boys are thrown across time and space. They find themselves alone in the desert, where, if they believe in unicorns, they can find unicorns, and whether they believe or not, mammoths and manticores will find them.
    The twins are rescued by Japheth, a man from the nearby oasis, but before he can bring them to safety, Dennys gets lost. Each boy is quickly embroiled in the conflicts of this time and place, whose populations includes winged seraphim, a few stray mythic beasts, perilous and beautiful nephilim, and small, long lived humans who consider Sandy and Dennys giants. The boys find they have more to do in the oasis than simply getting themselves home—they have to reunite an estranged father and son, but it won't be easy, especially when the son is named Noah and he's about to start building a boat in the desert. (from

    I loved how she got me interested in Sandy and Denny and decided to explore more of their characters. Sometimes the story was a bit hard to follow and I didn’t like that Noah’s daughter couldn’t get on the Ark. I would [recommend this book to middle schoolers] because it is about a very sophisticated topic that many middle schoolers would benefit from.
    --Isabella S.

    Tuesday, February 12, 2013


    This is the week of the Student Council Scholastic Book Fair. This year the Book Fair is set up in the Library all week. You can come look at the books & buy you favorites during the periods student council members are there. You can also stop by the Book Fair during conferences Thursday evening and Friday morning.

    Book Fair Open Hours
    • Tuesday, February 12th (Abe Lincoln's birthday!)
      • Periods 1, 2, 3, 6 & 8 (Library)
    • Wednesday, February 13th
      • Periods 2, 5, 7 & 8 (Library)
    • Thursday, February 14th
      • Periods 2, 3, 7 & 8 (Library)
      • 4pm-8pm (Main Foyer)
    • Friday, February 15th
      • 8am-11am (Main Foyer)

    Thanks a bunch to all the UMS Student Council members for working so hard to get more books for the UMS Library!

    TOP TEN TUESDAY: My Top Ten Favorite Romances

    Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is My Top Ten Favorite Romances.

    Miss Elizabeth Bennett & Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
    Who doesn’t have this on their list?

    Anne Shirley & Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables
    Gilbert Blythe… sigh. I actually suggested “Gilbert” as a name for our son since I loved this couple so much, but my husband quickly said “no”. I don’t think my husband understands just how dreamy Gilbert Blythe is.

    Josephine “Jo” March & Theodore “Laurie” Laurence from Little Women
    Yes… I picked Jo & Laurie and not Jo & Prof Baehr or Laurie & Amy. I wanted Jo & Laurie to marry and have lots of stubborn little children.

    Mary Anne & Logan from The Baby-Sitters Club
    I like that the shy girl gets the cute and devoted boy.

    Anna & Etienne St. Claire from Anna and the French Kiss
    I still have no clue how to pronounce Etienne’s name, but I freaking loved this book. The romance gave me butterflies.

    Matthias & Cornflower from Redwall
    Mouse love. How adorable!

    Scarlett O’Hara & Rhett Butler from Gone With the Wind
    Scarlett desperately needed Rhett and Rhett desperately needed Scarlett. I like to think they reconciled later on and worked together to become wealthy & powerful.

    Maddie & Justin from Awaken
    Love blossoms while trying to save the country. Do you put the one you love first or the cause you want to fight for?

    Marianne & Colonel Brandon from Sense and Sensibility
    For some reason I always admired Colonel Brandon’s quiet and respectful nature and thought he would be a steady and loving presence in Marianne’s life. 

    Meg Murry & Calvin O’Keefe from A Wrinkle in Time
    So sweet.

    Monday, February 11, 2013

    Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

    Girl of Fire and Thorns
    By Rae Carson
    Published by HarperCollins, 2011
    432 pages (paperback)

    Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
    Elisa is the chosen one.
    But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.
    Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.
    And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.
    Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.
    Most of the chosen do. (from

    Want something a little different? Pick this book up.

    Honestly, what I liked about this book is that the characters were different. Sure, there is a princess, but she isn’t blonde and graceful. Instead, she has thick dark hair, tanned skin, and is a bit on the chubby side. And definitely not graceful. Yes, there is a castle, but it is in the middle of a desert and not all that glorious. And there is a handsome king too, but he might not be all he is cracked up to be.

    Rae Carson has put a diverse and unique twist on the royal love-story/fantasy. In fact, it isn’t meant to be a love story at all. It is the story of a young princess who is learning about her strength from within and what it means to be strong. Elisa fascinated me because she didn’t let her self-doubt keep her from trying to follow her heart and purpose. She surprises herself, other characters, and the reader time and time again just by trying to do the right thing.

    Another plus of Girl of Fire and Thorns is that it has a bunch of strong female characters. Sure, there are some awesome guys too, but the ladies are vibrant leaders. We desperately need more books that have assertive women instead of whiny, weak girls.

    There was one thing that bugged me the whole book (and while reading the next book in the series). It is Elisa’s godstone. Since it is a central part of the book and described in the first few pages, I don’t feel like I am giving anything away when I say that the godstone is a blue jewel in Elisa’s bellybutton that makes her one of God’s chose. What?! I’m sorry, I could not imagine the powerful stone in her tummy that gets warm when she prays… or I couldn’t imagine it in a realistic way. It just seems all kinds of awkward. Maybe in the third book Rae Carson will put a picture of it or describe it in a way that makes it seem more fantastical and amazing.

    In the meantime, this was poetically written adventure that makes the reader faithfully believe in Elisa during her grand journey.

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

    STUDENT REVIEW- Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul by Jack Canfield

    Chicken Soup for the Preteen Soul
    By Jack Canfield
    Published by Backlist, LLC, 2012
    400 pages (paperback)

    Written by and for preteens, this uplifting collection of stories touches on the emotions and situations they experience every day: making and losing friends, fitting in while keeping their personal identity, discovering the opposite sex, dealing with pressures at school including violence, and coping with family issues such as divorce. (from

    What was good about this book is how every chapter is on a different topic and some stories you can relate to. I don’t think anything should be improved. Yes, [I would recommend this book to a middle schooler] because they could relate to the stories and have an awesome connection with the book.
    --Jaden T.

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013

    TOP TEN TUESDAY: My Top Ten Bookish Memories

    Top 10 Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is my Top Ten Best Bookish Memories.

    1. Getting a letter from Ann M. Martin after I wrote her a fan letter when I was in elementary school. I read soooooo many of her books between 1st grade and 10th grade. Love the BSC!
    2. Dinner with Mark Kurlansky and Maureen Ogle before they presented at an American History Teachers Collaborative workshop. So interesting to hear about their research and Mark is a Butler University grad just like me!
    3. Listening to Redwall with my husband on a trip to Minnesota. Redwall is his favorite book so it was fun to experience the book with him.
    4. Seeing Julie Cross lead a break-out session with the 2012 UMS Young Author Winners.
    5. Getting an email from Elizabeth Wein thanking me for posting a review of her book Code Name Verity on this blog. I loved that book and it was great to hear from her. I even gave the book to my 14 year old cousin because I knew she would love the book too.
    6. Having my 3-year-old son “read” books to me (he has them memorized)… especially when I don’t feel well or have had a bad day. Right now he always loudly reads Everyone Poops every single time he goes potty. Every. Single. Time.
    7. Winning my school’s Young Author contest when I was in 4th grade. I got a set of the Anne of Green Gables books. I love Anne.
    8. Any time a student gets really excited to get a book.
    9. Learning how to read when I was 4. My Mom taught me using old Dick & Jane books.
    10. Getting my Master’s Degree in Library & Information Science from the University of Illinois. It was an amazing program and allowed me to become a librarian. And it was pretty cool to be assigned fun young adult books to read for class instead of heaps of boring articles.

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    Planet Tad by Tim Carvell

    Planet Tad
    By Tim Carvell
    Published by HarperCollins, 2012
    256 pages (hardcover)

    Tad has an agenda: Survive seventh grade.
    He also wants to: grow a mustache, get girls to notice him, and do a kickflip on his skateboard. . . .
    But those are not the main reasons he started a blog. Tad just has a lot of important thoughts he wants to share with the world, like: Here is the first thing I have learned about having a dog in your house: Don't feed them nachos. Not ever. (from

    Well, Tad definitely reminded me of a lot of middle school boys I know. He was random, clumsy, hopeful, messy, thoughtful, sarcastic, and not one to think too far in advance. This is a book that a lot of students could relate to, especially as they deal with the awkwardness that is middle school.

    However… this book didn’t live up to my expectations. Maybe my expectations were too high (the author is a writer for The Daily Show after all) but it wasn’t as entertaining as a lot of books that are similar. Planet Tad is written in diary format, but there isn’t an over-arching theme, event, or goal to keep the reader hooked. Instead, it details his quirky/mundane life and lacks focus.

    BUT, I am not a middle school boy. So maybe this book will be funny and appealing to them when they want something light-hearted to read.